After 20 years of working across communication fields, Courtney Mitchell is returning to The Daily Tar Heel.
Mitchell will take over the general manager position on June 1. Erica Perel, the last general manager, joined the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media as director of the Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media last month.
Mitchell said her first goal is to listen to students.
“Any time you work in a new organization to help lead, first you need to learn what is happening, what people have been dying to do, help them define what is not working well and build the relationships that are going to help you make key decisions,” Mitchell said. “It starts with listening. In those first three months, I’m going to do a whole lot of listening.”
The Daily Tar Heel origins
Mitchell, a UNC graduate, is not a newcomer to the DTH. During her time at UNC, she wrote for the City desk and served as an assistant editor.
“I have been so inspired ever since I graduated by the DTH’s students, who serve a wide variety of campus and local communities through talented and thoughtful reporting and storytelling," Mitchell said.
Mitchell attended graduate school in Roanoke, Va. She then returned to UNC and worked in a variety of communications-related roles.
“Since 2004, I’ve spent my career in higher education — all at Carolina,” she said. “I have had a really wonderful time getting to write, strategize, learn about communications and just be part of serving others through the dynamic, thoughtful ways we can use those methods to communicate the messages of others to the community.”
Kim Schneider, the former vice chairperson for administration at the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the UNC School of Medicine, worked closely with Mitchell through her role as then director of communications at UNC Women’s Care. Schneider praised Mitchell’s work ethic.
“Courtney is just immensely professional and knowledgeable,” she said. “I think that is first and foremost what she will bring in that general manager role. She is a great counselor — it really does not matter if you are a student, peer or colleague — she is just so very thoughtful.”
Return to the DTH
The DTH had to expedite the process to find a new general manager. The search committee, composed of DTH students, board leadership and alumni, had to select a new general manager within just a few weeks’ time.
Anna Pogarcic, the outgoing editor-in-chief of the DTH, noted the success of the hiring process considering the short timeline.
“We had a hard deadline of Erica leaving the DTH and then starting her job on April 9," she said. "We posted our job application in early March, so that’s a one-month turnaround. The fact that we accomplished that is really impressive.”
Still, Pogarcic said that the hiring process was in no way rushed. After an exhaustive search, the committee had found the right match.
“I think the committee and students at the DTH who conducted their own interviews were very impressed by Courtney’s enthusiasm and overall demeanor,” Pogarcic said. “She really stood out because she not only understands where the DTH has been and is now, but where we want to be going.”
Pogarcic said that Mitchell had various ideas in terms of expanding fundraising, digital presence and diversity initiatives at the DTH.
“Everyone was really impressed by her,” she said.
Mitchell said that she wants to first listen to students before pushing for sweeping change as general manager.
“I don’t have concrete plans yet, besides trying to learn about the newsroom, deeply listen to our board and students about what is working and if something is not, how we can work to change it,” she said.
Nevertheless, Mitchell said she has several overarching goals she hopes to work on as general manager.
“I really am excited to continue the partnerships The Daily Tar Heel has with other organizations — other student media papers, the journalism school and other new partnerships that we can make,” she said.
She also said she hopes to make programs like the Sharif Durhams Leadership Program even stronger.
Mitchell also said she wants to build off of the work Perel has accomplished. She said she aims to strengthen and diversify sources of fundraising and foster more diversity, equity and inclusion at the DTH.
Praveena Somasundaram, the DTH’s incoming editor-in-chief, said she has high hopes for the upcoming academic year.
“With Courtney as our new general manager, I am hoping to lead the newsroom into a successful, post-COVID transition next year,” she said.
Somasundaram said she is confident that Mitchell will do wonders at the DTH.
“She went through a really grueling interview process and competed with a lot of candidates," Somasundaram said. "I’m excited to see what she does and work with her all next year. I think she is going to be awesome, and I am excited.”
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